Welcome to Homesteading with Hyacynth! Homesteading with Hyacynth is a monthly look at ways to lead a healthy, greener, more sustainable life. My intent with Homesteading with Hyacynth is to offer genuine, practical experiences and humorous and helpful tips. Of course, I am not a medical professional so these are my tips and what worked for my family.
It’s a Homesteading hijack! My good friend Loralie is here this month to share some thoughts on simplesteading. We know it can be daunting to go all out and plant a massive garden for the first time. But don’t let fear stop you from trying! Read on for encouragement and motivation to start small and watch your garden grow.
aka The Lazy Girls Guide to Homesteading
First off, let me tell you, there are SO many good shows on TV right now! And don’t get me started on my Netflix queue… Screen habits aside, hey, I have kids to raise! Meals to cook! Laundry to fold! Facebook to check! Bathtubs to scrub! Just kidding, I don’t scrub my bathtub. The point being, I’ve got more than enough to fill my day, and I bet you do too.
Ain’t nobody got time for homesteading!
It’s not to say we don’t care about feeding our family healthy whole foods or that we want to fuel the evils of the Monsanto-dominated industrial food complex; it’s just that… there are so many good shows on TV right now! Sure, Laura Ingalls Wilder may have consumed more nutrient-dense food than we Americans currently do, but she also didn’t have cable or an inexplicable crush on Adam Driver. Gurl, I get it.
Still, you read all these Homesteading with Hyacynth posts, and you get all moon-eyed and dreamy, and you say, “Gosh, if only I had time to ferment my own cabbage, raise backyard chickens, and plant an organic vegetable garden.” Me too. I fantasize all the time about having my own bucolic homestead, maybe somewhere out in Woodstock, with a Pinterest-worthy chicken coop, adorable baby goats, a composting toilet, and a deep trench with spinning blades to keep out the zombies. But my imagination does not always match up with my motivation. In other words, I’m lazy. I’m so lazy that I offered to guest post on the March Homesteading with Hyacynth column, and I didn’t finish it till April.
So what’s a well-intentioned lazy girl to do? The simplest solution would be to complain about it while doing nothing. While still being the lazy girl that I am, I have to remind you that we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Don’t think that you have to rip out your entire lawn and convert it into a mini-farm to positively impact your health and carbon footprint (although this would be super-cool and helpful when the zombies come.) Even a small gardening effort can reap a positive effect. Think of it as “Simplesteading.”
I dipped my toes into food gardening two years ago. If you want all the dirty details, you can read about it here. I did a whole series on it because I think I am very important. I started with just two 4’x10′ raised beds and vowed I would expand it every year. Well, it’s year #3, and we still only have two raised beds, but you know what? That’s ok! We have been blessed with an abundant harvest each summer that takes a nice bite out of our grocery bills for a couple of months and still allows us to share with friends. Now that the beds are in place, the biggest job is topping off the beds with fresh compost and planting seedlings in the spring, which is easily done in the time span of a few sunny afternoons. Weeding is easy because I rarely do it. Maybe I should do it more, but I’m lazy, and we still get plenty of fresh veggies. Dandelions are a delicacy, people.
My secret to simplesteading is that I invested a little extra time and money upfront to make it easier for myself in the long haul. By using the principles of Square Foot Gardening, you can start with as little as a 4′ x4′ square and produce a surprising amount of food with minimal upkeep. The biggest job is setting up the raised bed and filling it with soil. After that, it’s easy peasy.
Still too much effort? Forget about the raised beds and plant seedlings purchased from a greenhouse in containers. Start small, with something you love. Strawberries do great in containers, and who doesn’t love strawberries? No one I want to know! Plus, since they fruit in June, you won’t have to wait long to reap your gratification. Tomatoes, peppers, and fresh herbs are great for containers too. Make it fun for the kids and call it a “pizza garden,” with a different plant in each “wedge” of a round container. Then make them do all the work in the name of education while you catch up with Game of Thrones’ latest episode. You can have an edible patio in no time!
Remember that just one single tomato from your home garden or container is one tomato you didn’t have to burn fossil fuels by driving to the grocery store to buy. That single tomato will have more flavor and nutrients than its pale, cardboard-tasting, grocery-store counterpart. That single tomato is one less dollar to fuel that evil Monsanto-dominated industrial food complex. Look at you! You’re a rebel!
Here’s the thing I have to warn you, fellow lazy girls. I keep talking about how little work simplesteading can be, but yes, you do have to do some work. The plants will die without water, and you will have to pick the food for it to end up on your plate. But here’s the other benefit to all this gardening business besides the free food – the extra time spent out in the sunshine. All that fresh air, vitamin D, and exercise is an added boost to your health on top of those homegrown fruits and veggies you will be consuming. And because sometimes lazy girls are frugal girls too, why not cancel cable and your gym membership this summer and instead spend time out in your garden? Free food, free entertainment, and free exercise all in one. A lazy girl is all about killing two birds with one stone. And besides, summer is all reruns anyway…
For more of my lazy girls secrets to gardening, read up on my previous garden adventures:
When Loralie isn’t out exploring with her two pint-sized adventurers you’ll often find her in front of her computer plotting to take over the world (or at least Lake County.) She appreciates good friends, good food, expensive shoes and parents who make two lanes in the drop-off/pick-up line at school. Her spirit animal is The Hobbit. She invites you to join her on her quest for unique distractions, diversions and deliciousness in this county we call home.